Crossing The Plains 6/18 – 6/24

Sidney, Nebraska:  Population = 6,287, elevation = 4,308 feet, average January low temp = 10.9, Average July high temp = 88, average sunny days = 229, annual snowfall = 41.3”, annual rainfall = 18.8”, air quality index = 97, water quality index = 40, comfort index = 40

From Cheyenne, our route leads us into Sidney, Nebraska.  We are past the Rockies and the land is becoming flatter, more covered with grass and crops.  Occasional pine studded hills and ridges pop up here and there.  I keep insisting that the scenery is flat and boring and Marylu, who was born and raised in Sidney, keeps pointing out the hills and bluffs and rocky outcrops.

On the way to Sidney

In Sidney we are staying with Clint and Diane, Marylu’s brother and his wife.  This used to be Marylu’s parent’s house so it was build to accommodate the parents and 8 children.  The house is large and comfortable and has a swimming pool outside.  Clint has just retired so the next day he and Diane are heading off to Omaha, where they are picking up an RV and continuing on to Vermont for a well-deserved vacation.

A cool pool on a hot summer day

We have a mission in Sidney.  In August there is going to be the 50th class reunion for St. Patricks high school.  Jan from Cheyenne and Marylu have been planning a scavenger hunt for their classmates.  We are scouting the sites.  “Remember the old Five and Dime?  OK, it is something else now, but the building is still there.  Take a selfie in from of it and text it back to the Hunt Master.“   At least that is the plan.

Was that the 5 and dime? Or was it across the street?
The Cabela house and museum of big game trophies

My mission is to see everything on the Trip Advisor list of things to see in Sidney.  There are 5 things.  Have a classic burger at the Silver Dollar, and the tour is complete.  The week is hot and steamy so most of our time is spent just hanging out around the pool with Marylu’s sisters, niece, nephew and wife and babies.  Throw in some beer and BBQ and it makes for a nice relaxing visit.  Many thanks to Clint and Diane for graciously letting us use their home.

Part of Historic Downtown Sidney
Commemorating the Pony Express
Best burgers in town

Hot Springs, SD  Population = 3971, elevation = 3,504, average January low temp = 11.1, Average July high temp = 89, average sunny days = 229, annual snowfall = 35.1”, annual rainfall = 17.2”, air quality index = 99, water quality index = 40, comfort index = 59

The road to Hot Springs runs through more of a variety of scenery.  Lots of flat farmland, speckled with cattle or blanketed by wheat or corn.  There are distant ranges of high hills, growing darker as we approach South Dakota.  There are areas where the ground is tossed up in mounds, as if there were gigantic gophers at work out there.  The prairie rolls on, mile after mile, to the far away horizon.  But wait, what is that over there?  Stonehenge?  No, it is Carhenge!  A student of the original stone circle duplicated it with vintage cars, spray painted grey.

Why is it so bumpy over there? Everything else is flat.
Can’t make it to England? Try Nebraska for Carhenge.

Hot Springs looks like it could be an interesting little town.  The historic old buildings downtown are built of the same limestone that graces the cliffs nearby.  A little river gurgles through the heart of the town.  Big hills surround it, covered in dark pines, with outcroppings of dark granite poking through.  Our time is limited but we do manage to take in the Mammoth Site.  Roughly 26,000 years ago, a huge sinkhole opened up then filled with water.  When mammoths and other animals came to drink they fell in and could not escape so their bones became part of the jumble of bones at the bottom.  The site is unique in that it is a working archeological dig.  The building covers a solid block of limestone that they are slowly chipping the fossils out of.

Classic old buildings along River Street in Hot Springs
The Black Hills start just West of Hot Springs
A mammoth skull slowly emerges from the rock

Pierre, SD  Population = 14,115, elevation = 1,728, average January low temp = 6.1, Average July high temp = 89, average sunny days = 217, annual snowfall = 31.6”, annual rainfall = 18.8”, air quality index = 97, water quality index = 33, comfort index = 39

The road to Pierre is really boring.  If you love the wide open, mostly flat landscape here, more power to you, but I am not impressed.  Good place to raise cattle but not a fun or interesting drive.  Pierre is the second smallest capitol city in the USA, following tiny Montpelier, Vermont.  The capitol building is beautifully decorated with murals, marble, and terrazzo tiles.  The exterior dome is clad in copper that has aged and weathered to almost black.

Far horizons in South Dakota
The state capitol at Pierre
Interior detail of the capitol

Next up: Sioux Falls, SD


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We are two recent retirees who decided to sell the house, pull up stakes, and explore North America. We are both being tourists and looking for the right blend of people, place, and geography that makes for the perfect place to retire.

4 thoughts on “Crossing The Plains 6/18 – 6/24”

  1. Thanks for sharing your journey. I don’t mind the flat spaces too much for traveling through and enjoy being able to see the horizon but I do like some trees and water if I was going to stay someplace. Looks like you guys are having a great time! 🙂


  2. I enjoy every edition of your blog. I am going to read them start to finish, again, when you are done with this edition. There will be more when you restart your travels, yes? Karen Mardock


    1. Thank you Karen, I’m glad you are reading my tales and seeing the photos. I am enjoying being an “author”. It is an incentive too, to get out and explore cities and see the fun and scenic things there.

      While we are in Minneapolis, we are going to try to tour the city like any other city. TripAdvisors has lists of things to see and do and eat so we are going to try a lot of those. After Minneapolis, we are planning on heading toward the East Coast then back South. I will keep blogging about our travels as long as we are traveling.




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